PRESS RELEASE: Northern Kenya pioneers Africa’s largest landscape-wide IoT Conservation Network
Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) and Connected Conservation are safeguarding Kenya's most vulnerable species and natural resources with Africa’s largest landscape-wide IoT (Internet of Things) conservation network.
The project is evolving wildlife and natural resource conservation by leveraging LoRaWAN IoT sensors and networks to collect, monitor and analyze real-time environmental data on a captivating scale.
This data is coupled with analytics and conservation tools to help safeguard wildlife populations, promote peace, and empower community-led conservation.
NRT's IoT conservation network was the first of its kind in Kenya and has been made possible by Connected Conservation Foundation (CCF), bringing together a coalition of private and public sector partners including NRT, Cisco, Actility, 51 Degrees with EarthRanger (AI2).
LoRaWAN IoT technology has emerged as a game-changing solution for natural reserves that require robust signal coverage over vast and hostile environments, which often have zero connectivity.
This now widely used conservation technology, allows battery-powered sensors to communicate via a long-range, ultra-low data rate connection, resulting in longer battery life. Additionally, LoRa sensors are a fraction of the cost compared to satellite-enabled solutions - transforming the way conservation programs operate.
The IoT network currently covers 22 of NRT’s community-led conservancies and four private reserves, (Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Ol Jogi, Loisaba and Borana) with plans to bring more on board to increase coverage across the region. Over 190 new sensors have been deployed, with more scheduled, reaching 250 in the next few months.
“This IoT network is a game-changer for conservation efforts in Northern Kenya. We can now monitor our conservancies on a scale that was never possible,” says NRT’s CEO, Tom Lalampaa. “It is empowering our community-led conservancies to share, make decisions and collaborate in their conservation efforts.”
“This cross-conservancy, IOT conservation network is changing the way private and community-led conservancies work together. Shared real-time information for large connected landscapes is helping secure threatened species, manage essential ecosystem services and benefit local communities,” says Sophie Maxwell, Executive Director of Connected Conservation Foundation.
Improving peace and security
Data from the ranger, vehicle and wildlife sensors are helping rangers monitor and respond to threats to prevent poaching, share information on vulnerabilities, bolster conservation management strategies and promote peace and security between ethnic communities.
Now Kenya is one of the few places in the world where black rhino populations are on the rise. But with this success comes an urgency to establish safe and connected rangelands for these critically endangered species to roam.
This project has enabled innovative ways to monitor the rhino population and has helped bring the removal of fences between conservancies, creating larger, connected habitats for rhinos.
“Our ongoing work with CCF, and other partners to deliver the largest landscape-wide IoT conservation network is part of Cisco’s Partnering for Purpose initiative,” said Chris Panzeca, Senior Director, Global Strategic Partner Sales at Cisco.
“This network demonstrates the power of innovative technologies to support conservation efforts. Together, we are driving positive impact - creating safe havens for animals and empowering local communities.”
Managing and verifying natural resources
2022 saw extreme drought in East Africa, sweeping away grasslands, water, local food and animals. NRT has huge challenges to sustainably manage its natural resources and to pre-empt and reduce both human and wildlife conflicts.
The IoT network supports the plugin of livestock and environmental sensors to monitor foraging conditions, track livestock movements, and observe water levels that threaten the successful co-existence of wildlife and local people.
Additionally, this natural resource tracking data will help validate the effectiveness of NRT’s protected areas and help unlock new revenue streams by verifying community rangeland management for carbon projects.
Combined, this massive IoT undertaking will contribute vital digital infrastructure, to help Kenyan partners measure and achieve the Global Biodiversity Targets set out at COP15 - to protect 30% of the planet for nature by 2030.
For this project, the comprehensive LoRaWAN network management is done using Actility's ThingPark platform to efficiently manage gateways, integrate sensors, monitor network operations and regulate the flow of data to application servers.
“Few individuals readily connect wildlife conservation and IoT; however, the pairing is indeed a perfect match,” says Olivier Hersent, CEO at Actility. “Wildlife protection is an ideal use case for LPWAN IoT, given the vast territories to monitor, the necessity for long-lasting, low-cost sensors and the requirement for secure technology to combat poaching. We are delighted and proud to witness LoRaWAN and ThingPark playing a pivotal role in supporting this remarkable preservation endeavour.”
NRT reports the provision of real-time data, digital radio communications and cross-conservancy network collaboration, has helped accomplish a reduction in poaching and human-wildlife conflict. This has helped boost Black rhino numbers by 10% in Kenya.
NRT empowers 43 indigenous communities in Northern Kenya to manage their conservancies and maximize nature-based economies. Fair and transparent access to connectivity and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors is providing both private and local community-led conservancies with a boost in knowledge to prevent poaching, pre-empt human-wildlife conflict and halt habitat loss.
Samuel Lekimaroro, NRT’s Director of Wildlife Protection said, “These technologies are helping us achieve our goal of securing wildlife populations and bringing peace to the region.”
 Northern Rangelands Trust, Bi-Annual Report Jan to Jun 2022.
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About Connected Conservation Foundation
Connected Conservation unites the capabilities of technology companies to equip local partners with game-changing tools for nature protection and restoration. CCF brings essential connectivity, communications and sensing devices to vast landscapes, enabling conservation managers to pre-empt and stop poaching, habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict in protected areas.https://connectedconservation.foundation/
About Northern Rangelands Trust
The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) is a Kenyan conservation organization that works to protect and restore the Northern Rangelands of Kenya. It is a membership organisation owned and led by the 43 community conservancies it serves in Kenya (northern and coastal regions) and Uganda and works with over half a million community members to preserve and protect wildlife and habitats, promote sustainable use of resources, and improve the livelihoods of the people living in the region. https://www.nrt-kenya.org/
Actility is the world leader in low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN) industrial-grade connectivity solutions for the Internet of Things. Actility provides its ThingPark™ platform and network technology to deploy, operate and maintain public and private wireless IoT networks within a unified, scalable and versatile network infrastructure. Most nationwide network service providers (over 50) and thousands of enterprises trust ThingPark™ all over the world. Through its subsidiary Abeeway, Actility also provides patented ultra-low power tracking solutions. ThingPark Market offers the largest selection of interoperable IoT gateways, devices and applications to simplify and accelerate the deployment of numerous use cases.
Actility network management tools are distributed worldwide by Cisco teams and are used in a large variety of use cases for Smart Cities, Smart Buildings and Industries. For more information, visit www.actility.com/contact